The confusion surrounding the arrest of Mumbai underworld don Chhota Rajan has been cleared with CBI director Ranjit Sinha confirming, in New Delhi, the arrest of the former key aide of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim in the Indonesian province of Bali.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also confirmed the arrest of the underworld don in Indonesia.
Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde said that Maharashtra will request the Centre to allow Chhota Rajan to be taken to Mumbai after he is deported to India.
Chhota Rajan after his arrest. Sourced image
Rajndera Sadashiv Nikalje alias 'Chhota Rajan', 55, the boss of a major crime syndicate, was arrested on Sunday with the help of Interpol. He was on the run for two decades. The Interpol flagged him as a wanted man back in 1995.
This is billed as the biggest victory for Indian security agencies after the arrest of mafia don Abu Salem Ansari in Portugal in September 2002. He was deported to India in November 2005.
Acting on a tip-off from Australian police, Indonesian authorities apparently detained Rajan, wanted for a series of murders in India, yesterday as he arrived in Bali from Sydney.
The 55-year-old had been on the run for two decades, Bali police spokesman Heri Wiyanto said, with Interpol flagging him as a wanted man back in 1995.
"We received information from police in Canberra yesterday (Sunday) about the red notice for a murderer," he said.
"We arrested the man at the airport yesterday. What we know is that this man was suspected to have carried out 15 to 20 murders in India."
Bali police were coordinating with Interpol and Indian authorities, Wiyanto said, adding it was likely Nikalje would be deported to India.
A spokesperson for Australian Federal Police said Interpol in Canberra had alerted Indonesian authorities "who apprehended Nikalje at the request of Indian authorities".
The federal police confirmed last month that Nikalje was living in Australia under another identity and had been in discussions with Indian authorities, the spokesperson said, but would not provide further details.
Interpol's website states that Nikalje was born in Mumbai, and was wanted for multiple charges including murder and possession and use of illegal firearms.
Despite repeated attempts, top police, bureaucratic and political officials in Maharashtra maintained a guarded silence and declined to comment on the developments which have immediate and long-term implications for Mumbai's underworld as well as Maharashtra's law and order.
Earlier, for a couple of hours on Monday, confusion reigned in top intelligence and police circles in Maharashtra with some officials claiming that another serial killer from Karnataka, Mohan Kumar alias Cyanide Mohan, had been arrested.
Indonesia to deport Chotta Rajan this week
Indonesian authorities said on Monday that they will deport Chotta Rajan shortly after arresting the organised crime boss.
Rajan was on the Interpol's most wanted list for two decades, said Bali police spokesman Heri Wiyanto.
He said police were questioning Rajan in Bali police headquarters in Denpasar, the provincial capital, and coordinating with Indian diplomats for a deportation process.
Rajan held an Indian passport when he arrived in Denpasar, about 968 kilometres east of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
"This man is suspected to have been involved in more than 20 murders in India," said Wiyanto, "We will deport him this week."
Another official, the Denpasar Police chief detective Reinhard Habonaran Nainggolan confirmed that Rajan arrived in Indonesia carrying a passport under the alias Mohan Kumar. Rajan told Indonesian police that he had been hiding in Australia for seven years and flew to Bali by a Garuda Indonesia flight for vacation.
Rajnath terms Rajan's arrest 'major success'
Confirming the arrest of underworld don Chhota Rajan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said it was a "major success"
Confirming the arrest of Chhota Rajan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said it was a "major success" for the Indian government's efforts to nab him and thanked Indonesia for his capture in that country.
"It has been confirmed that Chhota Rajan has been arrested in Indonesia. The process of verification and other details are on," he told PTI over phone from Bihar where he is campaigning.
He said Indian had government had been trying to nab him for a long time and had made a request to Interpol in this regard. "We had issued a notice (through the Interpol)," he added.
The Home Minister thanked Indonesian government for the arrest, saying it was a "major success".
Asked when Rajan will be brought to India, Singh said the CBI and other agencies are in touch with the Indonesian authorities and things are being worked out. He, however, did not give any timeframe.
Asked whether underworld don and 1993 Mumbai blasts accused Dawood Ibrahim would be the next target, Singh said "let's see what happens in the future".
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the arrest has been made due to close coordination between Indonesia, Australia and Indian security agencies. Rijiju said most of the cases against Rajan were registered in Mumbai and the police in that city will take the initiative of his prosecution.
WHO IS CHHOTA RAJAN?
Chhota Rajan operated from Chembur and surroundings in Mumbai from the mid-1970s when he became a trusted henchman of Dawood, now India's most wanted don who reportedly lives in Pakistan.
Dawood and Chhota Rajan fell out after the bloody March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that Dawood ordered to avenge the communal riots in the city two months previously and the earlier Babri mosque razing.
Rajan slipped out of India in 1995 and remained on the run till his arrest on Sunday.
Rajan started life as a black marketer of movie tickets over two decades ago. Slowly, he took to murders, extortion, kidnappings and other serious crimes once he joined the Mumbai underworld.
Born in a middle-class Marathi family, Nikhalje earned the nickname Chhota Rajan when he took over the gang of his mentor, Rajan Nair alias Bada Rajan, who was killed in the 1970s.
He then joined Dawood's crime syndicate, popularly known as "D Company".
Apprehending serious threats to his life after his rift with Dawood, Chhota Rajan reportedly took the help of Indian authorities to escape to Dubai under a fresh identity.
It was during the heyday of the Mumbai underworld in the 1980s and 1990s that the two gangs were engaged in bloody street wars, leading to many "encounter killings" by police.
The Mumbai Police finally gained an upper hand over the mafia by 2000.
In September 2000, Dawood's men led by Chhota Shakeel tracked down Chhota Rajan to a hotel room in Bangkok. Posing as pizza delivery boys, they opened fire at him.
A stunned Chhota Rajan jumped out of the hotel's first floor room and escaped but was seriously injured in the fall, breaking his back. But he survived and slipped out of Thailand.